What’s it like to try and qualify for The Open? “I hit the best shot I ever hit”

Ronan MacNamara

Brian McCormack - PGA in Ireland Twitter

It’s the putt everyone wants to hole and at some stage has holed – on the putting green at their golf club – a putt to win the Open Championship.

Few get the opportunity to live out a dream that is chased by the many. Just to experience the Open Championship would be enough for some. The journey towards the Claret Jug every year is a long one with Regional and Final Qualifiers being played out across the UK and Ireland in a bid to reach the holy grail and win ‘The One.’

PGA Professional Brian McCormack might have missed out on qualifying for Royal Liverpool next week but his experience of Final Qualifying at Dundonald Links certainly gave him a taste of the Open Championship.


“It was something so small, you go in to register and they give you a Claret Jug badge for your hat that the pros get at the actual Open Championship, you can’t buy that,” explains the two-time winner on the 2023 PGA in Ireland region.

“The range had Open signs on the 50 and 100 yarders and so on so it was little things like that, that made it such a big occasion.”

That was only a minor detail, yet it had a major impact on him. That was before he glanced at the tee sheet…

“I think I underestimated how big that was. I only ever played in an Open Regional Qualifier twice and I was lucky to get into Baltray this year. I never even looked at the final qualifying venues. You are given four and asked to pick in order of preference which one you want and without looking I just went one, two, three, four. I ended up in Dundonald Links in Scotland,” explains McCormack who released his own golf psychology book called ‘The 5 Mental Secrets of Golf.’

“I saw the draw and initially Michael Block was out before me and Matt Kuchar after me and I was like ‘wait a minute’ this is a bigger deal than I thought it was. I got the head around that went over to Scotland, nice and calm then you see the Open signage and the branding and I still tried to stay focused and then Block goes to the first tee with a big crowd and I’m like ‘oh God’ I didn’t know there would be a crowd I’ve never played in front of crowds that big before.”

McCormack’s journey to the Open Championship might have ended prematurely but he came away beaming from ear to ear after realising if the chance to make it to the Open comes along again, he CAN get there.

“I didn’t qualify in the end but I was happy enough with how I handled myself in that scenario and I understand that I can. I know if my game comes together on the right course, I definitely can. There were a few shots I pulled out that told me that. 120 yards out on 13 in front of a crowd I got up and down from a tricky position on 18 in front of a big crowd that I had never played in front of before. You always wonder if you ever did would you be able to handle it? I was relatively comfortable and I enjoyed the buzz and that’s what I’ll take from that.

“You can’t buy that. If someone asked me what is the best shot I ever hit I wouldn’t have been able to tell them but now I know it’s the flop shot on 18 at the Open Qualifier. When your body is telling you to pull out of the shot because you’re nervous and the shot comes out absolutely perfect and the crowd claps, that to me is a big win because you are able to perform under extreme pressure. I can still play my game.

“Hopefully the next time there will be an Open or Irish Open spot on the line next time, because I know I can handle it.”


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